Appeal for chronically ill prisoner
Appeal for chronically ill prisoner

The partner of a chronically ill prisoner being held in Maghaberry has said he could die in jail unless an urgent decision is made on his release date.

Brendy Lillis has been on remand in the top-security prison for more than a year.

Last week a Derry court was told that charges against the west Belfast man were being dropped as doctors considered him medically unfit to stand trial.

Mr Lillis has ankylosing spondylitis, an illness that causes the spine to fuse.

However, despite the criminal charges against the 59-year-old being dropped, he remains bedridden in the prison’s hospital wing.

A former republican prisoner he was released on licence in 1984. However, in October 2009 his licence was revoked by the then British Secretary Shaun Woodward.

It will be for the sentence review commission to determine his release at a hearing, a date for which has yet to be set.

Mr Lillis’s partner Roisin Allsopp said further delays in the process mean his medical condition was reaching critical levels.

“All charges against Brendy have been dropped,” she said. “He should be a free man and be receiving proper medical treatment.

“At the minute Maghaberry are just managing his condition. They are not treating him.

“Every day he remains bedridden in his cell his condition deteriorates further.

“I’m afraid he’s going to die behind bars if action isn’t taken soon.

“He’s barely unrecognisable as the man he was.

“His weight has dropped to six stone, his hair has fallen out and his eyes are infected.

“It’s inhumane to keep a person in that condition locked in a cell.”

Sinn Fein Assembly member for West Belfast, Pat Sheehan, called for the immediate release of Mr Lillis.

“Sinn Fein is totally opposed to former political prisoners being held in prison by revoking their licence,” he said.

“Now that the charges against Brendan Lillis are not being brought forward he should be released immediately.

“Given the urgency of Brendan Lillis’ medical condition he should not be in prison.”

He said Sinn Fein had been in contact with Owen Paterson, the British Secretary, and the Sentence Review Commission and had called on them to deal with this case “without delay”.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News